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Representing a real slice of tranquillity, the once small fishing town of Elounda sits on the northern coast of Crete. Over the years this quaint town has developed into a livelier town and become more of a draw for tourists. But despite this gained attention, it still ranks as one of the most peaceful resorts in the whole of Greece, while also proving lively enough to keep all of its many guests suitably entertained.
With Elounda you get a lively harbour environment with authentic Greek tavernas and cheery waterfront pubs, meaning you have something fun to do in the evening when you’re done with your day on the beach. Staying in Elounda also means you’re also perfectly placed to visit Spinalonga Island, Crete’s most-visited site.
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As previously mentioned, Elounda is very close to Crete’s most famous attraction in Spinalonga Island. Known around Crete simply as ‘the Island’ because of its huge reputation, this amazing structure used to be a leper colony which served the whole of Greece. Its small inner network of run-down streets and houses, which were abandoned by Turkish occupants at the end of the previous century, became home to lepers who were then dubbed as the ‘living dead’. Despite the history of this enchanting island being decidedly depressing, it still attracts thousands of visitors each month and its stunning views and amazing history is the main reasons why.
In addition to Spinalonga Island there are many more sights to see in Elounda. It’s harbour, known as the Gulf of Korfos, is a natural, beautiful lagoon bordered by rugged peninsulas. It has crystal clear waters surrounding it as well as a number of amazing shops, restaurants and bars which give you a distinctly authentic feel for the resort. And for those looking to get in touch with their spiritual side, the nearby Monastery of Aretiou is one of the largest and most powerful monasteries in Crete. As well as being a beautiful structure to visit.
Greek cuisine is famous the world over and Elounda is no slouch when representing that claim. Despite its still growing reputation as a tourist resort, this small town still has a number of amazing dining options to choose from. A big one of them being the restaurant Arodamos, this quaint venue is two minutes’ walk behind the square. Hidden by a garden of shady olive trees and palms, you may have to search a little harder to find it. But boy is it worth it when you do! The menu is a traditional Greek one with meat cooked on the spit before your eyes. In addition to this there are also lamb chops, local sausage and local favourite roasted liver wrapped in intestines on offer.
Crete is famous for having many types of cheeses and each village and town has its own local interpretation of how it should be done. Usually made from sheep or goat’s milk, be sure to try Elounda’s local dairy offering. And dining in Crete wouldn’t be complete without trying the catch of the day with the amazing seafood on offer around all of the resorts restaurants.
Having been a small fishing village not too long ago, Elounda is still a fabulous and hospitable place to visit on your family holiday. Whether you want to teach your children to swim, snorkel or scuba, the waters and facilities available all around Elounda are perfect for doing just that. The beaches provide everything you could possibly need as a family, with umbrellas, loungers and restaurants all at hand.
Those looking for a fun day out away from the beaches can book a trip to nearby Watercity, one of the biggest aquatic parks in Crete. Situated in the hills near Anopolis, this place is a wonder of white-knuckle rides and chutes framed by beautiful sunbathing terraces, restaurants and gardens. Take things easy in the sun as the children throw themselves into the Black Hole, shoot down the Kamikaze or rush along the Crazy River. And when you’re tired of the adrenalin-inducing rides, there’s a huge swimming pool and wave pool to relax in also.
With amazing clear oceans surrounding the whole resort, it’s not entirely surprising that Elounda has an abundance of options when it comes to water-sports. These amazing options above and beneath the waves are what gets people visiting this resort and there is perhaps no better example of that than the amazing diving on offer. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice, diving in Elounda will be sure to provide you with an unforgettable experience. There are many centres and companies offering all round services to give you tours, training or whatever else you desire.
Above the water Elounda is equally as spectacular and there a few ways you can experience that beauty first-hand. If hiking and treks are your things, then moving into the nearby mountains is fairly easy to do and will provide you with an innumerable amount of amazing photos while you’re doing so. Alternatively there also a number of companies offering bespoke services to cart you around the local surrounding area in a huge land rover as you take in the breath-taking scenery.
The beaches in Elounda are every bit as amazing as you’d expect for a resort on the beautiful island of Crete. The main draw is Elounda Beach, right next to the harbour in the centre of the town, this well-organised beach has enough umbrellas and sun loungers to comfortably host the whole family for a day out. While it also has a lifeguard to allay any worries, while all around you will find cafeterias, restaurants and hotels to meet your every need.
In addition to Elounda Beach, there are also many more beaches on offer. Although it’s covered with pebbles rather than sand, the views from Plaka Beach more than make up for it. Able to see Spinagola Island in all its glory, Plaka Beach is a favourite for locals and tourists and when you’re on a comfy sun lounger looking out the azure ocean it’s easy to see why. Also short on sand, and with it sunbathers, the beach at Kolokithia is a popular place to visit for snorkelers and the relative peace found there provides a beautiful backdrop when viewing the amazing marine life.
Bars and restaurants are open late in Elounda and are relaxed so will tend to stay open until the last person leaves. Mams House has Greek nights with entertainment put on and is popular with visitors. For a night out in another town, head to nearby Agios Nikolaos, a ten minute drive away, you will find lots of choice of bars open late here including Alexandros bar with a roof garden to enjoy your cocktails al fresco. Radys Cocktail and Marios bar host local DJs and are excellent places to head for some dancing and partying into the night. On the 15th August there is a huge beach party in Elounda with DJs and clubbing throughout the night.
Elounda is an ideal destination for couples looking for a romantic getaway. As an up-and-coming retreat that revolves around a colourful harbour, it has enough relaxation and serenity to match it’s burgeoning cultural and nightlife scene. With the main square absolutely buzzing with life, there are also enough nooks and crannies in the resort to find some serenity with your loved one.
Packed with authentic Greek tavernas and friendly bars, Elounda is a hospitable host when it comes to booking romantic dinners. And although it is quite a lively resort in itself, those couples looking for a more vibrant scene will find it in nearby Agios Nikolaos just 15 minutes’ drive away.
Even though Elounda has a thriving tourist trade now it still retains its traditional ways of living. At the harbour there are still fishermen and quiet places. You can see the varied history of area in the architecture and remains, with Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine influences all apparent here and there. Alongside Elounda is the island of Spinalonga containing a fortress built in 1579, the island has regular boat trips visits and is well worth a trip. The island has a sad but interesting past, the fortress built by the Venetians and then the whole island later used as a leper colony until the late 50’s. There is now a fascinating museum and if there aren’t too many people visiting then the atmosphere is incredible.
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